10th of September 2018. That is the date of the last update that I have shared with you on my beehive. Four inspections have passed in between, but they were only mini ones.
The inspections from now on, only really involve a varroa mite drop count on the board, hefting and observing the activity at the entrance of the hive.
Varroa count: Over the last four (weekly) inspections, the numbers have changed dramatically. They went from a fairly regular average of 50/week to this inspection’s 200! According to the BeeBase Varroa Mite Calculator, my colony has approximately 1300 mites and treatment is needed ASAP!
*Alarm Bells Ringing!!!*
But wait, I only had two options to select from for the monitoring method used: “Drone cells uncapped” – NO, or the “Varroa board count (natural mite drop)” – YES… Naturally I selected the varroa board as that is what I am using, but it is definitely not a natural mite drop. For starters, I have the BeeGym (which I hope works and so I am desperate to believe it does) and the area with the most mite drop is concentrated to just below it. More importantly though, during a natural mite drop, the mites found on the board would be adult and dead (like the ones in #013 All my Single Ladies – Independent!). In this case, a noticeable amount of mites seen on the board were still alive, wiggling their tiny legs, and an even bigger percentage of them were immature, i.e. light pink in colour and somewhat translucent. Therefore, I can (optimistically) suspect that the BeeGym has encouraged the bees to get rid of the mites through grooming and that the spike in our monitoring graph above is due to more and more bees using it. We’ll just have to be patient, keep monitoring and we will see…
Although the mite drop could very well be attributed to the passive Gym, this is not a scientific experiment by any means and it could very well be that these bees are just genetically more inclined to grooming and dealing with these pests. #Cheeringforthebees
Hefting: There is no science here, it is simply carefully lifting one side of the hive to gauge its weight. I do that and assess, subjectively, whether the colony appears to have a lot of honey stored or not without opening the hive itself. But please, do not go tipping hives over, it can affect the accuracy of the estimate.
Observing the entrance: As I have mentioned before, a lot can be said about a colony’s health through observing its entrance. Things I instinctively look out for are signs of poor health, pests like wasps, aggressive activity such as honey robbing, traffic at the entrance and numbers of foragers returning with goods. Every time I pause to observe the hive, I find myself entranced and absorbed by the amount of activity going on and feel proud to see that this colony, my colony, is doing just fine.
During the last inspection something magical happened – I connected with them on a new level; I watched, with complete and utter awareness, their world outside the hive, beyond the entrance. Knowing that foraging bees return home after a long day of work is one thing, but to stand back and observe them rushing in on their individual flight paths that emerge from all directions but lead to one destination, home, now that (!) is a whole new level. That is a whole new world. And it engulfed me like the sweetest perfume.